From the Publisher: The Appeal of Trump

I tried to resist it, but with the greatest of all reality shows now going on in Cleveland I will confesses that the temptation to chime in with all of the other pundits was absolutely irresistible.

As some of you might have guessed, I am not a great fan of Donald Trump, but the depth and intensity of many of his supporters absolutely fascinates me. To put it another way — what do they see in him that excites them so, and why don’t the rest of us see it?

Could it be his political positions on the issues? Not likely, since frankly, he doesn’t have much of a political position on many of the issues …  but there a few positions he does have, and they resonate.

If your life isn’t what you expected it to be, and you’ve worked hard, and your future is bleak, and your children’s future is even bleaker, and you’re white, then what’s happened can’t be because of you, because you’re a good person, so it must be someone else’s fault. It’s got to be either betrayal or it’s “them.” And Donald stands ready and able to tell who betrayed you and who “they” are. He does it with gusto, and not even a touch of uneasiness at his own hypocrisy.

Part of his appeal is that he lies, he exaggerates, he embellishes, he rewrites history — turning every Trump failure into a great success — and he knows he lies and embellishes and all of the rest, and he simply doesn’t care. To him, it’s just part of the game. Best of all, he knows he’s going to get away with it. And I believe that deep in our inner recesses, many of us would like to be able to do that, and not worry about it, and not feel guilty, and not feel dirty and be above any kind of retribution.

Our world is changing and many of our citizens are worse off now, than they were 30 years ago. Their incomes are static, the price of education keeps rising, their employers are no longer in Kansas, or Illinois or even Mexico — they’re in China or Indonesia or Bangladesh, and it’s apparent they’re  probably not coming back. Their world has globalized but they’re not globalized. They’re living in small towns, watching their children move away, their jobs leave and their houses, if they own them, just sit on the market. They are angry, and both parties have made them promises they can’t keep; the Republicans in particular haven’t even tried to keep them. Like the man said, “They’re mad as hell and they’re not going to take it anymore.”

If Donald says “I can fix it,”they’re thinking, “Heck, what have we got to lose? We’ve tried it the other way and been swindled every time, so what the heck, let’s give him a chance.”

If Donald says it’s the illegal immigrants, and there are 11,000,000 of them in this county, and they’re rapists and criminals and taking your jobs, well, that feels good, because it means it’s not our fault. It means I’m a victim also — in fact, we’re the biggest group of victims. And if the “them” is black or brown or Asian, or gay or feminist or Jewish, and certainly nothing like us “real” Americans, well, it’s about time they all got their due and stopped sucking off the good Americans, like us.

If Donald says, “No one in the world respects us anymore, and we’re making bad trade deals, and little silly countries are thumbing their noses at us and I, Donald Trump, can change all that because I’m not afraid of being big and being bad. Just give me control of the armed forces and the nuclear arsenal, so if a country like Iran or North Korea annoys us, well, we’ll just turn them into glass.” I suspect it just might work, for a while. Certainly we know that the world tends to appease bullies to avoid conflict, for a while.   

So, for a lot of people, Donald Trump is a very emotionally satisfying candidate who gives them some hope, even it’s nothing more than an illusion. The pundits are calculating that Hillary has a 67 to 75 percent chance of taking it, all other things being equal. But Trump could win if more police officers are killed, or if some Muslim terrorists decide to stage a major event here in the United States and take down a bunch of people. 

I suspect that today there are people, or groups of people, who would be only too happy to create some such event, which is why this election could change very quickly.

The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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